Contacted by FRANCE 24, Sergei Kolesnikov sent us the following statement by e-mail:
I urge everybody to consider the following facts and decide for themselves whether they believe the palace is being built for Putin's personal use.
1 - Putin's press secretary Dimitri Peskov
has claimed that “Putin is not and has never been conntected to this building in any way”. Therefore it is not an official government residence.
2 - At the end of 2009 Nikolay Shamalov's companies Indokopas and Rirus became the owners of all the palace buildings. Nikolay Shamalov was a Siemens employee from 1992 to 2008. Siemens is a wonderful company, but I doubt the salary they pay is enough to buy a billion-dollar palace.
3 - The construction of the palace started in 2007, when Putin was president. The palace is being built by the state-owned company Spetstroy Rossii, which is headed by a four-star general, who answers directly to the president.
4 - The construction is supervised and guarded by the Federal Security Service
(FSO), which is also headed by a four-star general, a direct subordinate of the president.
5 - The plot of land the palace is on has been recently connected to all modern facilities with a new mountain road, an electricity line, a gas pipeline and other communication lines. All this infrastructure was financed by state money and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
6 - It is widely known that Shamalov is a close friend of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Shamalov is now constructing his personal villa in Gelendzhik, not far from the palace.
7 - The construction of the palace is financed by Rosinvest company. The main – 94% – beneficiary of the company is Vladimir Putin.
"I know what happens to those who tell the truth about corruption in Russia"
The facts I expose in my letter to President Medvedev, the facts of the corruption hierarchy built by Prime Minister Putin for his own benefit, are serious enough to require some time and consideration. President Medvedev has all necessary power to check these facts and make a decision. I don't have reasons to distrust the president. I consider my letter as a sort of acid test: the reaction of our president, of our political parties, of our members of congress, of our press and of the general public will show what they really think of the current situation in the country. Do they want to find out what's going on – or are they willing to swallow anything, accept everything. Do they really want change?
I know what happens to people who tell the truth about corruption in Russia, but hope for the best. I have a vision of a better Russia, a responsible state whose rulers care about its citizens and not about how to build themselves more palaces. I'm proud to be Russian. Russia has made a huge contribution to world literature, music, art and science. We and our children have a right to be proud of it. We should overcome corruption because we're a strong and free nation. We deserve a better life in a modern, flourishing, democratic society. With my letter I pay my debt to the country where I was born, raised, educated and lived all my life. Russian people deserve better. They deserve to know the truth."